National Federation of the Blind of Minnesota

Resolution A11-04

Regarding: Wages for Workers with Disabilities

 

WHEREAS, the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) was passed in 1938 to provide workforce protections to American employees by establishing a federal minimum wage prohibiting employers from exploiting workers through the payment of wages below this specified minimum; and

 

WHEREAS, Section 14(c) of the Fair Labor Standards Act permits the secretary of labor to grant special wage certificates allowing specified employers to pay workers with disabilities at rates that are lower than the federal minimum wage, eliminating those workforce protections granted to every other American citizen; and

 

WHEREAS, paying workers with disabilities subminimum wages stems from the public misperception that people with disabilities cannot be productive employees; moreover, this exploitive standard for employment is patronizingly considered a compassionate opportunity for people with disabilities to receive the "tangible and intangible benefits of work"; and

 

WHEREAS, when provided effective rehabilitation services, training, and support, employees with disabilities (even those with the most significant disabilities)  can be as productive as nondisabled workers, obtaining jobs paying the federal minimum wage or higher; and

 

WHEREAS, though some employers possessing special wage certificates claim to provide rehabilitation and training to their workers with disabilities to prepare them for competitive employment, the fact that such employers choose to pay their workers with disabilities less than the federal minimum wage demonstrates that they do not possess the skill to prepare those workers for integrated employment in the mainstream economy; and

 

WHEREAS, there are 104 facilities that possess a Special "Subminimum" Wage certificate in the state of Minnesota, which not only allows them to exploit the labor of people with disabilities through the payment of wages less than the federal minimum wage, it denies these same individuals the opportunity to receive the training and support to become competitively employed; and 

 

WHEREAS, the only way to discontinue this wage discrimination of workers with disabilities is to repeal Section 14(c) of the FLSA and to revoke every special wage certificate granted under that provision; Now, therefore

 

BE IT RESOLVED by the National Federation of the Blind of Minnesota in convention assembled this 9th day of October, 2011, in the city of Bloomington, Minnesota, that this organization call upon every entity  throughout Minnesota that currently possesses a Special Wage certificate from the U.S. Department of Labor to immediately surrender their Special Wage certificate, and to adopt a business model that values each of their employees with disabilities by paying them the federal minimum wage or higher; and

 

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization call upon all entities that hold these certificates to join with the National Federation of the Blind of Minnesota in our efforts to encourage the United States Congress to pass the Fair Wages for Workers with Disabilities Act of 2011, which provides an incentive for employers to adopt a business model that pays employees with disabilities the federal minimum wage or higher by phasing out Section 14(c) of the Fair Labor Standards Act and by revoking the certificates issued under that provision so that workers with disabilities are guaranteed the same workforce protections afforded nondisabled employees; and

 

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization call upon members of the Minnesota congressional delegation to co-sponsor H.R. 3086 to achieve this goal; and

 

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this organization condemn and deplore every entity that continues to exploit people with disabilities through the payment of subminimum wages.